3 Magic Words

When most of us hear the phrase “magic words,” we automatically think of “please” and “thank you.” While I wholly approve of these three words, they aren’t the ones I’m talking about.

These magical words are common, yet are often missing from our website or other business communication copy.

They are:

  1. You
  2. Imagine
  3. Because

(As an aside, am I the person who sings in her head, “because, because, because” from the Tigger song whenever the word “because” appears?)

You

The “you” to which I refer is your client. Take a look at your website homepage or sales landing page. Count how many times you use the word “you.” Now count up how many times you use the word “I.” Chances are you’re focused more on the “I” or yourself than your clients. (Hate to tell you this, but it’s normal!) How can you reframe your words to come from the “you” perspective? Think about what keeps your clients up at night, worrying. Describe in detail this hell that they’re suffering in. Show them you completely get where they’re coming from.

Imagine

No, not dragons (though I do dig Imagine Dragons!). Use this magic word to describe your clients’ heaven. What could their lives be like? Tap into sensory descriptions and feelings. Have them shaking their heads in agreement. “Yes, please. I’ll have what she’s having.” Imagine how magnificent it would feel to have your clients seeing themselves in your words!

Because

Because is perhaps the most magical of these three words. According to Ellen Langer, a social psychologist, and professor at Harvard University, when a reason is given — any reason — 90% compliance occurs. And the reason doesn’t even have to be a great one! “The researchers hypothesize that people go on “automatic” behavior or “mindlessness” as a form of a heuristic, or short-cut. And hearing the word “because” followed by a reason (no matter how lame the reason is), causes us to comply.” (Psychology Today, Oct. 15, 2013)

If you’re looking for additional resources, you can find them here.

3 Steps to Client-Attracting Copy

We’ve all done it: gotten so excited about our new programs or offerings that when we’re asked about them, we launch into listing all the fantastic features. We hint at all the effort that went into creating such beautiful programs. We’re certain that our stuff is the best thing since the invention of the telephone.

At some point, we pause to take a breath and notice the person to whom we’ve been speaking has glazed eyes and a nervous tick.

Why?

Because we failed to think about their perspective! We neglected to focus on their pain points and why our new program can alleviate their suffering. Tomorrow’s a brand new day — and a great one to start fresh.

Movie Loglines

A  logline is a brief (usually one-sentence) summary of a film or book that states the central conflict of the story, often providing both a synopsis of the story’s plot and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest.

When it comes to writing client-attracting copy, you can use the concept of loglines to your advantage.

Step 1: Write down the goal of your copy (e.g., what do you want the potential client to do?).

Step 2: Describe what wakes your client up at 3 a.m. with the sweats? What does she fret over or fear?

Step 3: Create a short concept statement (25 words or so) that marries your client’s pain point with your goal.

An Example

Step 1: You want your client to purchase a course in effective blog writing.

Step 2: Your client doesn’t have enough time to blog, doesn’t know if she’s “doing it” right, and blogs sporadically. Is it even worth the time and effort?

Step 3: Do you wonder if blogging is even worth the effort? You’re weeks behind and experience blog shame. Our half-day course will have you writing client-attracting blog posts in no time.

Now You Try

Take a piece of copy (an email or a section of your website). Compare the existing document to the movie logline example. What might you want to revise? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Please Tell Me a Story

Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick talks about The Curse of Knowledge, making our writing sticky, simpleunexpectedconcretecredible, and emotions. We’re to our last principle: stories. (Are you surprised that this wasn’t my favorite topic. Not to fear: it’s a close second to emotions.)

Fill in the Gaps

The last sticky principle we’ll review is stories. Did you know the human brain is wired for stories? In fact, if it doesn’t know the whole story, it fills in the gaps. (Which, tangentially, is how arguments get started: we’ve filled in missing pieces of information ourselves and convince ourselves that the story is true. That’s known as confabulation. Rut roh.)

I digress.

All stories can be broken down into one of the following seven categories:

  1. Overcoming the monster (David and Goliath)
  2. Rebirth (A Christmas Carol)
  3. Quest (Don Quixote)
  4. Journey (The Odyssey)
  5. Rags-to-Riches (Cinderella)
  6. Tragedy (Romeo and Juliet)
  7. Comedy (Much Ado About Nothing)

For a compelling argument that there are only six archetypes, read this interesting Atlantic magazine article. If you’re wondering about how a story is structured, we’ll be diving into this topic in a future post, but for now, you can watch this TEDTalk by Pixar’s founder as he shares their storytelling framework.

In my video on stories, I share the tale of Jared and his Subway diet to tie together all the elements of stickiness and combatting The Curse of Knowledge. While Jared is currently in prison, the example demonstrates all the principles we’ve been discussing.

Now You Try

Open up a draft or published post. Into what category would the story you’ve included fall? Have you included all story elements, such as a clear beginning, rising action, and strong conclusion? What changes can you make to use all the principles we’ve discussed?

I’d love to connect with you to chat about how to make your words attract your ideal clients. Schedule a FREE 60-minute breakthrough session with me.

I Get So Emotional, Baby

Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick talks about The Curse of Knowledge, making our writing sticky, simpleunexpectedconcrete, and credible. Now, we’re going to dig into emotions and how they attract your ideal peeps.

Focus on the One

The fifth principle we’ll discuss is emotion. Cue up, Whitney. Although many people get squirmy when the word ’emotion’ is mentioned, this may be my favorite of all the principles. Why? Because it starts with the heart and connects it to the head rather than the other way around.

Mother Teresa once said, “If I focus on the whole, I do nothing. But if I focus on the one, I’m compelled to do something.”

In my video on emotion, I shared the story of Save the Children using two different fundraising campaign letters to split-test their message. One letter spouted statistics while the other told a story of one little girl who needed help. Can you guess which resulted in higher donations? (Spoiler alert: if you guess the second letter, you’d be right on the money.)

Now You Try

Pull up your last warm letter. Did you focus on one person’s story or did you provide general outcomes? How did your letter work in terms of attracting your ideal clients? Rewrite your letter using the principle of emotion. Compare the two letters. Which would compel you to action?

I’d love to connect with you to chat about how to make your words attract your ideal clients. Schedule a FREE 60-minute breakthrough session with me.

Authority or Anti-Authority: Both Make You Credible

We’ve been exploring together the ideas set out by Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Made to Stick about The Curse of Knowledge, making our writing sticky, simpleunexpected, and concrete. In this post, we’ll continue looking at the six principles you can use to connect with your ideal clients by focusing on credibility.

I Wanted to Look Older

The fourth principle we’ll delve into is credibility, which could also be viewed as expert status or authority. Perhaps more compelling, though, is the notion of using an anti-authority to drive home your point.

In my video on credibility, I shared the story of Pam Laffin, who was the spokesperson for an anti-smoking campaign. She started smoking at a young age in an attempt to look older. As she said, “Unfortunately, it worked.” During the commercial, she explains that she’d already had a failed lung transplant and was dying — at the age of 29 (she did pass away a few years later).

Her authority came not from degrees or certifications but from life experience. Testimonials offer credibility because they provide social proof that your program or methods work. For another great example of credibility, visit RightSizeBody.com, which is owned by my friend Marietta. The image she shares on her homepage demonstrates that she’s ‘been there, done that.’

Now You Try

Take a look at your website. Where are your testimonials located? Are they bunched all together on one page or are they sprinkled among the other pages? Do you use testimonials on social media and in your emails? How can you improve your credibility?

I’d love to connect with you to chat about how to make your words attract your ideal clients. Schedule a FREE 60-minute breakthrough session with me.

How Being Concrete Can Make You Sticky

In the past few posts, we’ve explored the ideas set out by Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Made to Stick about The Curse of Knowledge, making our writing sticky, simple, and unexpected. In this post, we’ll continue our exploration of the six principles you can use to connect with your ideal clients.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

The third principle we’ll explore is how to be concrete in your examples and writing. I don’t know you, but when I hear the word concrete, the words to AC/DC’s epic song, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, comes to mind. “Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT/Done dirt cheap/Neckties, contracts, high voltage/Done dirt cheap.” Even if you’re unfamiliar with the song, reading these lyrics gives you a pretty clear indication of the topic.

In my post about how listening to Ed Sheeran can make you a better writer, I gave examples of how his words paint images in our minds. These are excellent examples of concreteness. Use sensory language to evoke connection.

One of the examples I shared in my video on concreteness was about then-third grade teacher named Jane Elliott who struggled in 1968 to teach her students about prejudice in the wake of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination. She devised the controversial and startling, “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise. This famous experience labeled students as inferior or superior based solely upon the color of their eyes and exposed them to the experience of being a minority. It was so concrete that her students never forgot the example.

Now You Try

Pull up an old blog post. Read it out loud. Look for areas where you could change your language to paint pictures in your readers’ minds. Make changes to your post and reshare it.

I’d love to connect with you to chat about how to make your words attract your ideal clients. Schedule a FREE 60-minute breakthrough session with me.

Are You “Rutless?”

Billy Crystal and Debra Winger starred in the 1993 film, Forget Paris, which was the mostly forgettable story of a vertically-challenged NBA referee and his wife. What made the film memorable for me was a restaurant scene in which Billy’s character orders a meal and Debra comments that he always orders the same dish.

“You’re in a rut,” she tells him. He justifies his choice saying that he knows what he likes, but the comment rankles. Flash forward to the film’s end and you see Billy and Debra at the same restaurant but Billy orders something new. “I’m rutless,” he declares.

The thought of being “rutless stuck with me. Or, to get with the theme of this post, its message was sticky!

Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Made to Stick, wrote about The Curse of Knowledge and how once you know something you can’t unknow it. We’ve explored the notion of making our writing sticky and simple. In this post, we’ll continue our exploration of the six principles you can use to connect with your ideal clients.

You didn’t see that coming

The second principle we’ll explore is the notion of making your writing unexpected. Can you take a common notion and twist it around somehow to more effectively make your point resonate? For one of my favorite examples of “unexpected,” watch this YouTube video.

How did you feel after watching the video? Did it surprise you at all? What made this commercial sticky?

Now You Try

Grab your newly modified — and simple — elevator pitch. Can you add an element of the unexpected?

Here’s a video I recorded to highlight the principle of unexpected.

I’d love to connect with you to chat about how to make your words attract your ideal clients. Schedule a FREE 60-minute breakthrough session with me.

Six Ways to Combat “The Curse of Knowledge”

Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Made to Stick, wrote about The Curse of Knowledge and how once you know something you can’t unknow it. We’ve explored the notion of making our writing sticky and in this post, we’ll begin to explore six ways you can use to connect with your ideal clients.

Holy combat, Batman!

When you’re crafting messages for your clients, see how many of these six principles you can employ in your effort to counteract the effects of the Curse of Knowledge. The more you use, the sticker your message. A word of caution, though: like salt, knowing the right amount to use will season your dish. Use too much, and what you’ve created will just taste, well, salty.

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

Keep it Simple, Sally

The first principle we’ll explore is the idea of simplicity, which ought not to be confused with ‘dumbing things down.’ Rather, select clear, simple language to convey your thoughts and ideas. Here’s an example using a Nike:

    1. You ought to be exercise more so your heart and body can be healthy and your mind clear. Our athletic shoes will support you in your endeavors.
    2. Just Do It.

Which of these two messages grabbed your attention — and kept it?

Now You Try

Grab your elevator pitch. Read it out loud. Does it sound more like example #1 or #2 from above? How can you simplify your message to make it more compelling?

Here’s a video I recorded to highlight the principle of simplicity.

I’d love to connect with you to chat about how to make your words attract your ideal clients. Schedule a FREE 60-minute breakthrough session with me.

How to make your posts “sticky”

Continuing from my last post on The Curse of Knowledge, today we’ll talk about the notion of making your writing ‘sticky.’ No, I’m not talking about saltwater taffy or cinnamon buns (although, YUM). The stickiness of ideas makes what you have to say resonate with your ideal clients.

Velcro ideas

Ideas that stick with your clients work like velcro and stay with them long after your conversation has ended. You know you’ve hit the mark when the next time you meet or chat, your client says, “I’ve been thinking about what you wrote.” Bazinga!

Watch my short video about making your writing sticky.

Now you try:

  1. Pull up one of your old blog posts.
  2. How sticky does it feel?
  3. Where could you revise it to improve stickiness?

In my next post, I’ll share six ways to make your writing stickier. Want to learn more? Read Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

What’s the “Curse of Knowledge?”

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll have heard me talk about “The Curse of Knowledge,” which is, according to Dan Heath, “the more you know about something, the harder it is for you to imagine what it’s like to lack that knowledge.” This makes communicating with your potential ideal clients difficult.

Once you know something, you can’t “unknow” it.

In their book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath share the story of Ph.D. candidate Elizabeth Newton of Stanford University and her experiment called, “Tappers and Listeners.” This experiment divided a group of people into two: tappers and listeners. Tappers were given a list of well-known songs, like “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Happy Birthday.” They then were asked to predict how often their listeners would correctly guess the tune being tapped out, which they predicted at 50%. In 120 trials, the listeners only guessed correctly what the tappers tapped three times! (Those poor listeners just heard some kind of strange Morse Code!)

Why such disparity?

The tappers heard the melody in their heads as they tapped it out on the table. The listeners had no context or point of reference for the tapping.

If you have kids, you’ll likely have experienced this situation: your child runs up to you, super excited, and starts chattering away about the ins and outs of whatever it is occupying their thoughts. Typically, they’re in the middle of their thought process and you feel lost. With my son, this happened most often with Pokemon while my thoughts were otherwise engaged. I would have to say, “Would you please start at the beginning and catch me up.” I’d be met with an eye roll but he’d back up and fill me in.

Eye rolls aside, we often do the same thing to our clients!

Here is my three-step process for evading The Curse of Knowledge:

  1. What is it that you want your clients to know or do?
  2. What is your client’s pain point or desire?
  3. In 25 words (or less), reframe what you want from the perspective of your client’s pain or desire.

Watch my video where share insights about the Curse of Knowledge.

If you’re struggling to meet your ideal clients and think you might be suffering from The Curse of Knowledge, schedule a virtual coffee with me.